Sea Bream Nouvelle Creole

Most of the time, seafood and tomato sauces don’t work well together. But when they do, they become spectacular. In this one, the conjunction of hollandaise with the tomato sauce is what makes the magic. It can be prepared with many kinds of fish, but the one that seems perfect is Gulf sheepshead–also known as sea bream. Redfish, trout, red snapper, and lemonfish would also be good.

I apologize for the length of this recipe, but most of the many herbs and spices are probably in your pantry anyway, and you’ll make quick work of the cooking. Our recipe for hollandaise can be found here.

Blackened sheepshead, very good soup of the day at Copeland’s one day a few years ago.

  • Creole Sauce:
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, minced
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fish:
  • 8 fillets sheepshead, 4-6 oz. each
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • ~
  • Topping:
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 4 large mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 lb. crabmeat
  • 1 Tbs. white wine
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco jalapeno sauce
  • 1 cup hollandaise

1. Heat olive oil in heavy saucepan and in it cook onions, bell pepper, garlic, celery, tomatoes, and green onions until onions are translucent.

2. Add all other sauce ingredients except basil and cook over medium-low heat for seven minutes, until thickened. Add basil, remove the bay leaves, and cook another three minutes. Season to taste, remove from heat, and hold warm.

3. Blend the salt and pepper into the flour. Mix the egg and milk to make a wash. Dust the fish with a little of the seasoned flour. Pass through the in egg wash, then shake off the excess. Dredge in the seasoned flour, and again shake off the excess.

4. Heat butter and oil over high heat in a skillet. Sauté the fish two to three minutes on each side, till golden. Remove, drain, and keep warm.

5. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of the butter and oil in the pan, and in it sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they soften. Add the rest of the topping ingredients and sauté about two minutes, until warmed all the way through.

6. Ladle the Creole sauce onto the plates. Place two fish fillets atop each. Add a heaping tablespoon of the topping over each fillet, then a stripe of hollandaise. Finish with a pinch of cayenne.

Serves four.